This month’s Parish Magazine – for all the news..
A MESSAGE FROM OUR RECTOR
A few weeks ago we travelled down to Brecon Cathedral for the Consecration of the new Bishop of Llandaff, a vacancy which had occurred after the retirement of Archbishop Barry Morgan. . There had been some controversy over this appointment; the Electoral College had failed to find an overall majority amongst the selected candidates and one of them had complained publicly of a strong bias against him. So the Bench of Bishops had to come up with a new Bishop.. and they chose June Osborne. June had been Dean of Salisbury for over twelve years and is very experienced in all aspects of the work and ministry in the Church of England. There was a lot of extra interest in her appointment because she is a woman, and now the second to be made Bishop in Wales in the last six months. (Bishop Joanna having been appointed to the Diocese of St David’s last year.)
I had been asked to represent the Cathedral Chapter at the service and it was indeed a splendid occasion, with many clergy and laity from across Wales and of course a large contingent of supporters from Salisbury Cathedral, including the Choir. The music was excellent and it was a wonderful celebration of the continuing life and work of the Church in Wales.
Thirty years ago I had just started going back to Church after many years absence. I was in my thirties with a sympathetic husband and a young family – just what we are looking for in new members of our Churches today! I was keen and lit up by my new found faith. I used to get there early, about half an hour before the start of the service, and one day people started to arrive before any of the sidemen had turned up. So I stood and began handing out the service books to them as they came in. Then one of the Wardens, we will call him Tom, came to me, took the book from my hand and said, “Oh no, Mrs Walker, not while there is a man to do it.” And that was that.
During the eight years that I was there, I began training for the Ordained ministry and so started participating in the services, reading a lesson or serving at the Altar. Eventually I was leading the Evensong service on a Sunday and had good support from many of the congregation. But there was a small vocal minority (including a new Vicar) who would not countenance the idea of a woman in a leadership role and before I was ordained I was moved to a neighbouring parish to serve there. (A most painful move but one that turned out for the best in the long run.) However, in that time the original parish had moved on despite itself. Before I left I was asked to take up the collection plate! Yes, it was the first time a woman had ever done that!
A lot has happened in the last thirty years; – and generally the Church in Wales has moved on to be more inclusive and more welcoming – of difference,- in age, gender, sexuality, race or disability and what is more to PROCLAIM that message to the world. We still have a long way to go, and yes, TWO women Bishops out of six is a very good start indeed.
Please continue to pray for our clergy and lay ministers, especially here in this Diocese and also for someone to hear the call to minister here amongst us in this Henllan Group and the wider Denbigh Mission Area.
Yours in Christ